Annapolis Probate Attorney
After a loved one passes away there is the challenging task of transferring all of their assets to the beneficiaries. This process, called probate, involves a court procedure, and all legal requirements must be met before the assets are considered in the possession of beneficiaries. While it may seem overwhelming at first, a skilled Annapolis probate attorney can assist you in the probate process so that it goes smoothly and efficiently.
Tasks that An Annapolis Probate Attorney Can Help You Complete
The first thing to determine after a person dies is whether or not there was a will in place. If there is no will, The Maryland Office of the Register of Wills states that the distribution of probate assets is determined by the relationship of surviving heirs of the decedent. The split of assets depends on whether or not there is a spouse, whether any children are minors or adults, and whether there are surviving parents. If there is a will, the probate court must decide its validity and name an executor. Assets such as retirement plans or life insurance policies can be passed on to heirs if they are listed as beneficiaries on those assets. However, if a listed beneficiary has also died, then those assets must also go through the probate process. A qualified attorney can guide you through all of the steps of probate including the following:
- Order and distribute death certificates to creditors;
- Assist the will’s executor and trustees;
- Open the estate;
- Communicate with creditors, employees, and other contacts;
- Arrange for sale of property and inside furnishings;
- Obtain and file probate documentation;
- Defend will contests;
- File inventories and administration accounts;
- Help with filing estate tax returns
There are assets that are considered outside of probate. The most common of these is probably jointly held assets such as a family home that is owned by both spouses. Other non-probate assets include life estate or remainder interest in a trust, payable on death (P.O.D.) assets, trusts in which the decedent had an interest, and pension and benefits plan with listed beneficiaries.
What is a Small Estate?
A small estate, according to Maryland’s Code for Estates and Trusts, § 5-601, is an estate that is valued at $50,000 or less, unless the spouse is deemed to be the sole heir, in which case, the estate must be valued at $100,000 or less. Small estates can avoid the formal probate process.
Contact an Annapolis Probate Attorney Today
While there are laws and specific steps to be followed in the probate process, each estate poses its unique challenges. Maryland has both estate tax and inheritance tax, which means surviving family members should pay close attention to what in the estate is taxable and what is exempt so that they are not overpaying taxes on the assets left to them. If you recently lost a family member and you are trying to sort out what will happen to their estate, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced Annapolis probate attorney today. At Frame & Frame, our attorneys can guide you through the details of probate so that you can focus on your family. Contact us at 410-255-0373 to schedule a free consultation.